Nasir al-Din al-Tusi – Muslim Astronomer and Mathematician

In the Islamic history, we find various influential personalities, who have contributed immensely to the discipline of mathematics and science. One such influential name is Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. He was born in the 1201 CE, in Tus, which lies close to Meshed in north-eastern Iran. He was educated mainly at a religious establishment, which was supplemented by other subjects taught by his uncle.

Throughout his life, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi focused on such subjects as logic, physics and mathematics. At an early age, he moved to Nishapur, where he studied philosophy, medicine and mathematics. While in Nishapur, he gained the reputation of being an outstanding scholar and became well-known throughout the area.

He wrote a major astronomical treatise called, “Memoir on Astronomy.” In this book, he described a new model of lunar motion, and an invention of new geometric technique called “Tusi-couple” which generated linear motion from the sum of two circular motions. This technique was widely used by all the later astronomers including Copernicus.

One of al-Tusi’s most important mathematical contributions was the creation of trigonometry as a mathematical discipline in its own right, rather than just a tool for astronomical applications.

Al-Tusi wrote extensively on the subject of biology, and he was one of the first to advance the theory of biological evolution. He gave an explanation and argument to say that plants, then animals and then humans evolved; he also argued that heredity and variability were important factors for biological evolution. He gave this idea 600 years before Darwin. However, as opposed to Darwin, he presented his idea based on the Islamic philosophy that Allah (swt) created the world and then His creation developed under His guidance.

Al-Tusi was a great astronomer and mathematician, who also made contributions in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, philosophy, medicine and theology.

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Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali


Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, also known in the West as Algazel, was born at Tus, Iran, in 1058 CE. He received his early education at Tus, and at the age of fourteen, he went to Gurgan, where he studied Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). After seven years, he moved to the city of Nishapur and became a student of the famous scholar, Abu Malik Al-Juwayni.

He soon acquired a high standard of scholarship in religion, philosophy and Fiqh. The vizier of the Seljuk Sultan, impressed by his scholarship, appointed him as a Professor at the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad, which was the most reputed institution of learning at that time.

After a few years, however, he gave up his academic pursuits and worldly interests to become a wandering ascetic.

After spending some time in Jerusalem, Makkah and Madinah, he came back to Tus and spent several years in seclusion. He finally ended his seclusion, opened a Sufi school and started teaching and lecturing. He remained in Tus until his death in December, 1111 CE.

Al-Ghazali was an influential Muslim theologian; in addition, he was a philosopher, a jurist and a Sufi mystic. He was a prolific writer, authoring more than seventy books. One of his major works, the multi-volume “Ihya ul-Uloom ud-Din” (“The Revival of Religious Sciences”), can be divided into four parts. It covers nearly all aspects of Islam, including Islamic jurisprudence, theology and Sufism.

Al-Ghazali authored two books on Islamic theology. He was very interested in logic and philosophy, and he studied intensively while he was teaching at Baghdad. He composed two books on philosophy as well.

Al-Ghazali’s work had a widespread influence on Western Medieval scholars, especially Thomas Aquinas. He received wide recognition in the religious institutions of the Ottoman Empire, southeast Asia and Africa.

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